Heat Island Effect causes cities to get much warmer than their surrounding rural landscapes.
Increasing heat awareness among all Californians is important, including for those living in cities, where 94% of Californians live. Great numbers of urban residents also lack reliable access to air conditioning or lack the funds to run the air conditioning.
Follow these tips to help protect yourself from heat illness:
Have an Extreme Heat Plan.
Keep an eye on weather forecasts and heat advisories so you know when extreme heat is coming and how long it will last. Drink more water than usual throughout the day and wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing. Create your personalized extreme heat plan.
Know the Signs!
Heat exhaustion signs include heavy sweating, weakness, dizziness, nausea, and headache. Heat stroke symptoms include a fever of 103 degrees F or higher, confusion, and loss of consciousness. If you are suffering from heat stroke, seek medical attention immediately.
Know where your local cooling center is located and where to find transportation. Set your A/C to 75—80 degrees F. If air-conditioning isn’t available, visit spaces with air-conditioning, like a cooling center, library, community center, or shopping center.
Take advantage of public pools and splash pads in your area to cool off. Apply sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher to protect your skin from the sun. If you feel overheated, apply a cool compress to your forehead or the back of your neck to help lower your body temperature.
Save the To-Do List for Later.
Avoid being outside in the direct heat for a long time, especially when the sun’s rays are strongest, between 10am and 4pm. Avoid alcohol and caffeine as those beverages can dehydrate you further.
Check on Vulnerable Friends and Family!
Check on older neighbors and family, or those with chronic health conditions to make sure they are staying cool and hydrated.
What is the heat-island effect and how does it put urban residents more at risk?
Urban areas are typically about 1-7 degrees hotter than outlying areas. Cities tend to get much warmer than their surrounding rural landscapes because they have more dark surfaces, such as unshaded roads and buildings, that gain heat during the day and radiate that heat into the surrounding air.
Cities can have more tall buildings that block wind flow and speed up evaporation. They can also block the heat from being released and trap more of it where humans can feel it.
Air quality worsens on hot, sunny days. Densely populated urban areas concentrate heat-emitting devices, like cars and air conditioners, over small areas. All of this creates smog, a harmful air pollutant, putting these populations at greater risk from hotter temperatures and air pollution. Overall, this contributes to higher air temperatures in cities.